The port city of Khal lies on the southern shore of the Homeward Sea, built atop the low, sandy cliffs astride the Ellaham River. Its port is heavily guarded, not only by sleek, lateen-rigged galleons, but also of two pillars of stone, topped with giant statues. Around the bases of these plinths are brass bombards pointed out to sea.
The city is built of stone and wood, and exotic palm trees sway in the hot, dusty desert breezes. The sound of industry and commerce float in the air, and as the Sea Sprite pulls between the entry plinths it enters a large, circular port area with docks ringing its perimeter. At the far end, near the entrance to the river, are located drydocks on which strange vessels are being repaired and refitted.
A haze of smoke hangs about the docks, smelling of spicy wood and soot. As the ship pulls into port, an inspection team wearing flowing robes and turbans board the vessel.
Instructed to find the Temple of Corellon in Khal, she wanders a few streets until she finds a small throng of robed figures standing before a large, burned structure.
- The senior priest, Eldritch Venefix, greets Cora and asks about her business. He apologizes for the sorry state of the church, but offers whatever aid he can.
- The Temple lies in smoking ruins, having burned to the ground the night before the heroes arrived. The event was no accident, since a column of desert sand was apparently used to batter through the main doors of the Temple. The lay members are searching the ruins even now, trying to save whatever art or relics they can.
- Venefix is surprised to hear that the Citystate Cathedral suspected Khal for the theft of Glade Whispers. Such an act would be unthinkable to any of the faith.
- He does feel that others should be alerted to possible vandalism. There have been rumors of raids during the night, and with two Corellon temples defiled, he fears another attack. The nearest Corellon shrine of any size is in the city of Ahgram, to the south.
While wandering the dockside market-stalls, Ophelia sees a flash of light from the corner of her eye. Looking, she sees a large Dragonborn sentry using his belt knife to reflect sunlight her direction. He isn’t glancing her way, but he shrugs his shoulders to indicate an alleyway nearby. He looks towards her and nods.
- The Dragonborn introduces himself as Mehut Shadowscale, a member of the Dust Eaters, a clan of desert thieves. He says he is Ophelia’s contact in Khal, contacted by the Masked Man.
- Mehut reveals that the man known as the Subtle Prince was named Rashem Ta’abi. He reiterates that two centuries ago, Rashem Ta’abi was an assassin of such skill that he could infiltrate an armed camp of elite guards, pass through a secure cordon and murder not only the Caliph of that land, but all his retinue as well before leaving the camp as unnoticed as when he arrived. When he eventually died, his secrets were rumored to be buried with him.
- Legends say that his rewards for the Caliph’s murder was so vast that it took several carts to move it. Fearing for his life with such a burden, the Subtle Prince and his treasures simply disappeared one day. He hasn’t been seen since.
- It is thought that his tomb is hidden somewhere near the city of Ahgram, to the south. No map exists to show its location, but there is rumored to be a secret road to it. A book called Desert Shadows tells of this road, but it is kept in the palace of the Caliph of Ahgram.
Lux and Thorn are tasked with securing transport to the city of Ahgram, some days to the south across many miles of desert. It is said the journey is hard, but made much easier by the presence of a hard-packed road with inns and oases along the way.
- The stockyards are filled with dozens of jostling, annoyed animals and colorfully-clad people from many lands, haggling in loud voices. Two large pens dominate the area: one for sleek horses, and the other for surly, dusty camels.
- Seh-ta, the horseman, has a selection of mares for sale. If asked why no stallions, he spits and explains that mares are more biddable to commands and less prone to excitability. He will begin bids for riding horses at 100 gold coins, but he can be bartered as low as 60 (Diplomacy +6, Will 15). His warhorses start at 1000 gold coins, minimum 550.
- Ahmet, the camel-trader, has a fine selection of camels for sale. These beasts start at 90 gold coins (minimum 55) , and Ahmet himself has Diplomacy +7, Will 14.
- The market-stalls in town have a fine selection of goods, both common and exotic (list is a separate attachment).
Once properly outfitted, the party left the oasis of Khal for the blowing sands of the desert.